I went to the Virtual Mine launch event to explore an educational sim that teaches about coal mining through the use of an interactive game environment. The Virtual Mine was built in anticipation of a film called Deep Down, which will be screening in various places around the world, and will also be shown on PBS’ Independent Lens program. We met up with our guides, Girl Tenk and Tracks Elcano. Using voice chat, they instructed us to wear the hard hat and a HUD. When the sim warned me via the main chat that I am required to wear a helmet in the area, I knew that the experience was going to be marvelous.
We waited for a few more people to teleport in, donned our hard hats, wore our HUDs, and began our adventure.
First, the trees were cleared from the top of the mountain. It was very sad to watch.
Then, explosives were placed strategically on top of the cleared mountain.
The detonator was set off, and the rocks went flying up and then came crashing down…
A crane was brought in to collect the coal…
Rik was injured in the explosion and he could not move for a while because he did not move out of the way in time.
We then crossed a bridge to go visit the town near the mountain…
the town was a replica of a real town in Kentucky that was closely studied by the team that built the Virtual Mining sim.
Draxtor was on location, shooting machinima footage (which I look forward to seeing)
Then we went and put solar panels on top of the farm houses…
Someone found a line dancing floor and animated their avatar, soon everyone joined in as they were setting up for the panel…
Finally, there was a panel moderated by renouned machinimator Draxtor Despres featuring:
Girl Tenk, Film Maker
Tracks Elcano, Film Maker
Shayna Capalini from BAVC
Rik Riel, Global Kids
Frederica Lexenstar, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
The panel discussed the inspiration behind the building of the sim, and the importance of having immersive educational experiences to showcase the environmental and social impact of coal. They also discussed the state of virtual worlds and their acceptance as a medium. The filmmakers acknowledged that it may not be for everyone, but said that projects like this are increasing the acceptance of virtual worlds as a medium. They also stated that it is up to everyone to be an evangelist for projects like this.
Tracks Elcano: “let’s get this out to the people and not just the choir, the choir already knows.”
Written by: Layal